Patrisse Cullors: Black Lives Matter co-founder resigns

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patrisse cullorsImage source, Getty Images

Black Lives Matter's co-founder says she is resigning from its foundation, but not because of what she called right-wing attempts to discredit her.

Patrisse Cullors said Friday would be her last day at the foundation, which she has led for nearly six years.

The 37-year-old activist's finances came under scrutiny last month after it was reported she owned four homes.

Black Lives Matter started as a hashtag in 2013 and has since become a global movement.

Ms Cullors said she would step down from the Black Lives Matter Global Network to focus on her forthcoming second book, An Abolitionist's Handbook, and a TV development deal with Warner Bros highlighting black stories.

In a statement, she said: "With smart, experienced and committed people supporting the organization during this transition, I know that BLMGNF is in good hands.

"The foundation's agenda remains the same - eradicate white supremacy and build life-affirming institutions."

Ms Cullors told the AP news agency her resignation had been planned for more than a year and was not related to claims that she had misused donations to acquire her property portfolio. There is no evidence to suggest that she had done so.

"Those were right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character, and I don't operate off of what the right thinks about me," she said.

The BLM Foundation told AP in February that it had raised $90m (£63m) amid last year's racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Media caption,

Black Lives Matter: The three women who founded a global movement

The foundation said it ended 2020 with a balance of more than $60m, after operating expenses, grants to black-led organisations and other expenses.

Last month the New York Post reported that Ms Cullors - a self-described Marxist - had bought a $1.4m luxury home in Topanga Canyon, near Malibu, and owned three other homes, including a custom ranch in Georgia.

Facebook banned users from sharing the story, citing privacy concerns, and a black journalist said he was locked out of his Twitter account after he posted the article.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Black Lives Matter has become a global rallying cry

Conservative critics - but also some black activists - called for an investigation into whether Ms Cullors had used the organisation's funds to enrich herself.

In April the foundation said that Ms Cullors had received $120,000 between 2013 and 2019 for her work.

The Black Lives Matter Foundation said in a statement: "As a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, [the foundation] cannot and did not commit any organizational resources toward the purchase of personal property by any employee or volunteer.

"Any insinuation or assertion to the contrary is categorically false."

Ms Cullors appeared to hold back tears as she told the Black News Channel last month that suggestions of financial impropriety against her were "categorically untrue and incredibly dangerous".

The grieving parents of Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor - two African Americans whose deaths at the hands of white police officers were often cited by Black Lives Matter - last month reportedly complained the organisation had done nothing to help them.